Today I'm sharing the powerful words and wisdom of a young woman from Pakistan who has inspired millions and continues to do so. Her story is one of defiance and rebellion, and shows the impact that one very small person can have if they use their voice...
The Nobel Prize-winning education activist
Malala Yousafzai – known universally as Malala – has spent half of her life campaigning for equality in education and is the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner in history. She was already a prominent campaigner for girls’ education in her home country of Pakistan when a Taliban gunman boarded her school bus and shot her nine years ago when she was 15. On her 16th birthday in 2013, Malala spoke at the UN to call for worldwide access to education and in 2017 the UN designated April 10 Malala Day in honour of her birthday. At 24, she’s still standing up and telling the world who she is and what she believes in. She graduated from Oxford University last year and continues to campaign for girls’ education through the Malala Fund. Last month, after the Taliban resumed control of Afghanistan, Malala spoke out against girls being banned from secondary education and called for leaders to stand up for Afghan girls’ right to go to school.
A target for speaking out
Malala was born to a lower-middle-class family in Mingora, Pakistan, in 1997. She loved attending the village school run by her father until the Taliban took control of their town and banned girls from getting an education. In 2012, Malala became a Taliban target after she spoke out publicly on behalf of girls and their right to learn. That October a masked gunman boarded her school bus and shot her in the head after asking: “Who is Malala?” She woke up ten days later in a Birmingham hospital with no memory of ‘the incident’, as she calls it. Medical staff told her about the attack and that people around the world were praying for her recovery. After months of surgeries and rehabilitation, she settled in Birmingham with her family.
Any girl’s story
Even after her attempted assassination, Malala chose to continue speaking up and, with her father, she established the Malala Fund – a charity dedicated to giving every girl an opportunity to achieve a future she chooses. In recognition of their work, she received the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2014. Malala Fund campaigns for equality and education across the globe, holds leaders to account and aims to create a world where all girls can learn and lead so that their stories, like hers, can be heard. As Malala says: “I tell my story not because it is unique, but because it is the story of many girls.”
An inspiring legacy
Malala shares her story to build connection and shine a light on girls just like her, whose stories are being quietened. But you don’t have to have been shot by the Taliban to tell your story! You have every right to take up space and use your voice. And you never know who is going to be inspired by your story or who is going to find the strength to keep going after reading your words. All of our stories matter – so speak up, even if you feel like giving up!
Tell Your Story
If you want to learn more about how to storytelling for your biz, you can buy my pre-recorded workshop Tell Your Story.